front cover of Me llamo Marcela: My Story as a Heritage Speaker, written by Marcela T. Garcés and illustrated by Andrés E. Garcés, featuring a cartoon drawing of Marcela as a teen-ager with braces, writing in a book with a map of the world behind her.

Me llamo Marcela

My Story as a Heritage Speaker

Written by Marcela T. Garcés
Illustrated by Andrés E. Garcés

70 Color pp. 7 x 10

Pub Date: EXPECTED August, 2024

Subjects: Comics Studies
Latinx & Latin American Studies
Creative Nonfiction

Series: Latinographix

Imprint: Mad Creek

Preorder Paperback $14.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5915-3

“The unexpected effects of language on cultural identity come into focus in this beguiling graphic memoir.…Meanwhile, the provocative black-and-white artwork—contributed by the author’s brother—blends kaleidoscopic visuals with an impish sense of humor. A candid rumination on cultural heritage, connection, and determined individuality.” —Kirkus

Me llamo Marcela wonderfully captures that awkward feeling of straddling cultures. A great story about how weird it is to grow up Colombian in the Midwest, how we can proudly own our weirdness, and how we have the power to choose our own identity.” —Jorge Aguirre, author of Call Me Iggy and Monster Locker

On her first day of middle school Spanish class, Marcela thought she’d excel—after all, she’d grown up speaking Spanish at home and on visits to family in Colombia. Instead, she quickly felt like a confused imposter, unsure how a language that was part of her heritage and identity could so elude her. And so, at age thirteen, with the help of her Spanish teacher Doña Maribel, Marcela began her formal journey studying Spanish. She never anticipated how much she’d discover about learning a language and what it means to be a heritage speaker—someone who grows up using a language at home but often lacks more formal knowledge of it.

In this charming graphic memoir that captures a little-discussed aspect of growing up multicultural, Marcela recounts her earliest Spanish teachers: Colombian street vendors, family members who shouted or whispered words, and her beloved Doña Maribel, who helped her connect the Spanish of her youth with what she was learning in the classroom. Childhood memories from trips to Colombia intertwine with her adolescence, when Marcela resolves to study the language for herself, not because people correct her or expect her to speak it well but because she wants to learn. This comic, drawn by Marcela’s brother Andrés, shows the complicated path of language and identity that Marcela travels as a heritage speaker.

Marcela T. Garcés is Professor of Spanish at Siena College near Albany, New York, where she teaches a range of courses on the Spanish-speaking world, focusing on topics from fashion and film to cuisine. She has authored scholarly works in these areas as well as creative pieces in English and Spanish. She and her husband, Yuri, also operate La Centralita Culinary Studio, teaching the community about the cuisines of Spain. Marcela loves motivating students of all ages on their unique language and cultural journeys.

Andrés E. Garcés graduated from the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan, where he studied sculpture and painting. He works as a Senior Museum Assistant in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Yale University Art Gallery. His artistic influences and interests include Japanese animation, cartoons, and comic books. Andrés practices many art forms including painting, sculpture, and 3-D modeling and enjoys collaborating artistically with his wife, Sabrina, and his daughter, Elena.

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